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Passenger rights in railway travel

The EU Regulation 1371/2007 defines the rights of rail passengers in Europe since 2009. The following provisions apply to national and international long-distance rail services within the EU. For shorter train routes, especially in urban and regional transport, national states may have different legal regulations. In Austria, therefore, different rights apply to such domestic short-distance journeys than to long-distance or cross-border train journeys and are set out in the Railways Act of 1957 and updated Austrian Federal Law Gazettes.

1. Information obligations when booking tickets

InformatioAccording to the EU Regulation, the company selling the rail ticket must inform passengers about the following during the booking process:

  • general conditions for the journey
  • timetables
  • information about the cheapest fare and the fastest connection
  • services available on the train
  • procedures in case of lost luggage
  • complaints procedures

Advanced information must be provided by ticket vendors to passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility on:

  • suitable trains
  • accessible stations
  • assistance available when using the means of transport (getting on, off, changing trains)nobligations when buying tickets before the journey
Pictogram about "Obligation to inform"

Obligation to inform

2. Extended rights for persons with disabilities

To ensure that vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities or reduced mobility, have as full access as possible to the same travel conditions as other passengers, the EU has adopted specific rules in this regard.

  • When travelling by train, passengers with physical disabilities have the right to free assistance at stations and on trains. This requires information about the need for assistance at least 48 hours before departure. The relevant provisions can be found directly in the Regulation on rail passengers' rights (Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007).
  • Passengers with such physical limitations are advised to visit the relevant Your Europe information page to find out the full extent of their extended rights.
Pictogram about "Limited mobility"

Limited mobility

3. Right to return an unused ticket

This is not regulated by the EU Regulation, but by the Austrian Rail Transport and Passenger Rights Act:

  • In principle, customers can only return single tickets before the first day of validity.
  • Customers can also return season tickets during their period of validity, but they only get back the corresponding value of the remaining period of validity on a pro rata basis.
  • The railway company may charge an adequate handling fee, but only if there is no fault on the part of the company for the return, such as train cancellations or timetable cancellations.
Pictogram about "Returning unused train ticket"

Returning unused train ticket

4. Compensation for delays depends on their duration

If you have chosen alternative transport after purchasing a ticket due to a delay or cancellation of a train connection, or if a long delay unexpectedly occurred after boarding during the journey, you are entitled to financial compensation.

  • 25% of the ticket price for delays between 60 and 119 minutes
  • 50% of the ticket price for delays of 120 minutes or more. 
  • If the compensation payment is less than € 4, it does not have to be paid.
  • For weekly and monthly tickets, railway companies determine the compensation amount themselves. (See the website of the respective railway company). ÖBB pays € 1.50 for every 20 minutes of a confirmed delay (again, from a minimum of € 4).
  • Annual travel pass holders are not entitled to compensation in Austria if individual journeys are cancelled or delayed.  However, every cancelled or delayed train is recorded in a statutory punctuality statistic. If a railway company in regional transport does not achieve the punctuality target of 95 per cent, annual ticket holders must be refunded 10 per cent of the rail ticket price per month for the month in which the punctuality target was not achieved. In the case of ÖBB, the prerequisite for this is that customers had registered when they received their annual ticket.
Pictogram about "Train delay"

Train delay

5. Sample letter claiming compensation from the railway

6. Foreseeable delay or complete cancellation after ticket purchase

You have bought a ticket and now it is clear even before you start your journey that the arrival at your destination will be delayed by more than 59 minutes, or you have bought a ticket for a train connection that is completely cancelled or has been removed from the timetable.

  • You can withdraw from the contract and ask for a refund of the ticket price.
  • You can demand carriage at the next possible time.
  • If you have already started the journey and have already travelled part of the route, and this travelled part of the route becomes pointless for you as a result of the impossible continuation of the journey or an expected delay of at least one hour, so that you want to return to the station of departure, then you can also demand the costs for this return journey.
  • If you wish, you can choose to continue your journey at a later time. In doing so, the railway company is obliged to inform you of the expected new departure and arrival time and explain what options you now have.
  • At the beginning of 2021, the European Council and Parliament included a clause on compensation in case of force majeure in the future regulation, which excludes compensation obligations in case of natural disasters, severe storms and the like. However, this update will only come into force in 2 years - i.e. at the moment there are still claims for compensation by railway companies in such cases.

You can download the sample letter linked below and adapt it to your needs. If you cannot reach an agreement with the railway company, you can have your claim settled by the Austrian Passenger Rights Agency free of charge.

Piktogram about "Cancelled train"

Cancelled train

7. Care services in the event of delays of one hour or more or train cancellations

  • You are entitled to meals and refreshments.
  • If you have to wait one or more nights for your onward journey, the railway company must also provide you with a hotel room and transport between the station and your accommodation. In Austria, however, there are maximum compensation amounts for hotel (€80 per person) and taxi (€50 per person) based on the EisbBFG.
Piktogram about "Refreshments"

Refreshments

8. Voucher or cash?

According to the regulation, the said compensation may be paid out in the form of vouchers.

  • However, if you explicitly request a monetary payment, this may not be rejected by the railway company and this payment must be made no later than one month after the complaint has been submitted. 
Pictogram about "Voucher or cash"

Voucher or cash

9. Blocked track - alternative transport substitute

If there has been a blockage on the route and the train cannot continue, then passengers have the right to be transported elsewhere by the train to the departure station, to an alternative departure point or directly to their final destination by other means of transport (different train, bus shuttle etc.).

Pictogram about "Blocked track"

Blocked track

10. Damaged and lost luggage

You are allowed to carry luggage (including pets) on the train that can be easily accommodated. As a rule, compensation for lost or damaged luggage is only available if the luggage has been checked in and is transported in the train's luggage van. In addition 

  • the luggage must have been adequately packed
  • the piece of luggage must have been suitable for transport (this is defined in the railway company's conditions of carriage).
  • It must not be a special piece of luggage.

The amount of compensation depends in principle on the value of the damaged luggage.

  • If the value of the luggage can be proven, the maximum amount of compensation is 1,300 euros.
  • If the value of the luggage cannot be proven, the maximum amount of compensation is 330 euros.
  • Exception: If a passenger was killed or injured in a train accident, he or she is entitled to compensation for lost or damaged luggage up to a maximum value of 1,500 euros. In this case, it does not matter whether the luggage was checked in or simply taken on the train.

If the checked-in luggage is delivered late, you are also entitled to compensation, unless the delay is due to an error on your part or to circumstances beyond the control of the train operator.

Pictogram about "Damaged luggage"

Damaged luggage

11. Train accidents – Compensation and financial support

If an injury or death occurs in a train accident, there is a right to compensation with an advance payment within 15 days of the accident. This advance payment is intended to cover the immediate costs.

  • In the event of death, relatives are entitled to this advance payment. It amounts to at least 21,000 € per person in the event of death.
Pictogram about "Damage to health"

Damage to health

12. Where to submit a complaint?

All complaints must be submitted to the railway company that issued the ticket. Many railway companies have their own forms for submitting applications for compensation. The APF maintains a list of the application pages on the Internet of the railway companies operating in Austria.

In the case of cross-border rail journeys purchased online, it often happens that your ticket is issued by the foreign railway company and not by ÖBB. Many railway companies have their own forms for claiming compensation, which you can obtain at the ticket counter or on the company's website. You should enclose a copy of your ticket with your claim.

Piktogram about "Complaint"

Complaint

13. Rights and obligations in the event of penalties

  • Do not throw away your ticket until you have left the station; checks are permitted on the platform.
  • Accompanying a passenger to the platform is allowed.
  • Train conductors must be shown the ticket, and if none is available, an identity card.
  • At the passenger's request, a conductor must identify himself or herself or give his or her service number.
  • If tampering is suspected, train conductors may confiscate a ticket as evidence.
  • In the case of fines, passengers have one month to contest the fine, which is considered unjust, with the railway company, which must respond before taking further action.
  • If the passenger manages to subsequently prove possession of a valid ticket at the time of the penalty, the penalty imposed must be reduced to a maximum of 10%.

For more detailed legal requirements under the EisbBFG and your options, please see the relevant APF information page.

Pictogram about "Rights and duties"

Rights and duties

14. No agreement found with the railway company? Conciliation board!

If a complaint cannot be settled directly with the railway company, you can contact the conciliation body for railway passenger rights of the respective EU Member State. 

  • In Austria, the Agency for Passenger and Passenger Rights is responsible for mediation (telephone specialist railway department: 0043 1 5050 707 710). It handles all cases free of charge where passengers have bought their ticket from a railway undertaking or transport association based in Austria or from a railway undertaking operating in Austria.
  • If a complaint case cannot be settled out of court, claims can also be filed in court.
Pictogram about "Dispute resolution"

Dispute resolution

15 List of European Conciliation Bodies

16. Allowed to take bicycle along?

The right to carry bicycles is included in the EU Regulation, but regulated in detail at national level. In Austria, according to national law, railway operators only have to allow the carriage of bicycles if

  • they are easy to handle
  • this does not interfere with rail traffic
  • it is possible on the trains concerned.

A fee may be charged for taking bicycles on board.

Pictogram about "Bicycle"

Bicycle

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